2009 ASP Women's World Tour 

The best female surfers in the world are locked in and the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour looks to be one for the record books.

Eleven ASP Women’s World Titles will be represented over four competitors in reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, 2004 ASP Women’s World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, and returning 2005 ASP Women’s World Champion and 2009 ASP Dream Tour wildcard Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 25.

“After a three-tier process including surfer, ASP technical committee and ASP Board votes, Chelsea Hedges has been ed as the 2009 ASP Wildcard,” Brooke Farris, ASP Women’s World Tour Manager, said. “The former ASP Women’s World Champion will bring experience, a solid backhand attack and a baby to the 2009 ASP Dream Tour. After finishing 8th in 2007, Chelsea took a year off to give birth to her daughter Mieka. With her undeniable talent and past results, Hedges was a strong ion.”

Despite announcing 2008 as her last season as a full-time member of the ASP Women’s World Tour, Beachley will also return to competition for events.

“Announcing her retirement from full-time ASP World Tour competition last October, Layne Beachley will be using her ASP World No. 4 seed to surf at some of her favorite Dream Tour locations,” Beachley said. “Hunting her 30th career win, I suspect we will see Layne surfing at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and her own event the Beachley Classic at Manly.”

In addition to the slew of returning champions, the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour will also boast the arrival of a new guard in women’s surfing, led by 2008 ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) Winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18.

“With five fresh new faces onboard, the line-up for the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour is incredibly exciting,” Farris said. “It will be interesting to see how quickly the rookies adapt to life on the ASP Dream Tour and who will really try to shake two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Steph Gilmore off the podium.”

Fitzgibbons will be joined by fellow newcomers Bruna Schmitz (BRA), 18, Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, Alana Blanchard (HAW), 18, and Coco Ho (HAW), 17.

Next season’s ASP Women’s World Tour will be comprised of eight Australians, three Hawaiians, three Brazilians, one Peruvian, one South African and one New Zealander, and will take the ASP Top 17 to Australia, Brazil, Peru, “Somewhere” and Hawaii over eight events.

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Pat Gudauskas 

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America has crowned its 2008 regional champions in the men’s and women’s ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS), and Pro Junior divisions and now that the 2008 season is in the record books and the dust has settled, the nation boasts Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, and Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), 17, atop the ASP WQS regional ratings, while Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA), 19, and Christa Alves (Cocoa Beach, FL), 19, claimed this year’s ASP North America Pro Junior Series titles.

In the ASP LQS, America saw Taylor Jensen (Oceanside, CA), 24, and Cori Schumacher (Carlsbad, CA), 31, claim this year’s regional longboard championships.

All of North America’s top competitors strive each year to attain a center stage position in their respective divisions. The ASP WQS acts as a gateway for the ASP World Tour and Women’s World Tour, while junior surfers tackle their regional events in an attempt to earn a spot at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.

The ASP LQS acts similarly, as surfers work to gain a spot on the ASP World Longboard Tour (WLT). Each surfer is fighting to earn the right to advance to the next level of competition, giving them a chance to win an ASP World Championship in each of their respective divisions.

Gudauskas, who put together an amazing season throughout the year, finished 17th overall on the ASP WQS globally and claimed the title of ASP North America regional champion this year. The regional title is a goal that he had originally set out for himself at the beginning of the season.

“Winning the domestic ratings was a huge goal for me this year, along with qualification,” Gudauskas said. “I knew that with the good start in Florida this would be tangible.”
 
With so many talented surfers hailing from the United States, Gudauskas feels especially proud of his achievement of finishing atop the regional competition.

“To win the North American ratings race is a big deal to me because it asserts you as one of the top prospects coming from the talent rich continent of America,” Gudauskas said.

“I think a lot people look to American surfers to see what’s the future of both style of surfing and approach. To be amongst the top of my competitors is an accomplishment in itself, and to win it was icing on the cake. I take a lot of pride in being from America, and to be on top of the American pro ratings, it's a special thing.”

Arrambide, the America Pro Junior Series Champion, was equally satisfied with the accomplishment earned over the stiff competition throughout the year. The up-and-coming young talent is a part of several successful surfers hailing from the Ventura area and now Arrambide is hoping to claim his first ASP World Junior title in Australia this January.

“I’m stoked to have won the junior’s in 2008,” Arrambide said. “That was the goal that I had set out for myself at the beginning of last year and now I can’t wait to go to Australia. I’ve been training and surfing as much as I can to prepare for the event and am really looking forward to the contest.”

Christa Alves clinched this year’s ASP North America Pro Junior Series Women’s title with a win at the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro earlier in the year and will be accompanying fellow top surfers such as Arrambide to Australia to compete for an ASP World Junior Championship title due to her No. 1 finish regionally.

“Finishing first this year means that I finally get to represent our country,” Alves said. “I’ve worked hard, saved my money and am really excited to go.” 

Cori Schumacher, a former competitive longboard standout, had taken a sabbatical from competition starting in 2005, but she came back in top shape this year when she claimed the regional ASP LQS title at the Roxy Jam Cardiff, an ASP LQS 6-Star event, over the world’s top female longboarders at her home break.

Since Schumacher hadn’t competed in a few years, she had to begin in the opening rounds, but the Carlsbad local ended up winning every heat she entered, eventually taking out the win.

“I had competed in ’05, but 2001 was my last real contest and I felt really good going into the event at home,” Schumacher said. “I felt focused, strong and I was able to pull everything together from the first heat all the way through the Final.”

The 2009 season will play host to several increased ASP WQS events as well as many new ASP LQS contests and the opening event is just around the corner, with the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro, an ASP WQS 4-Star, beginning on January 12, 2008.

Mavericks 

On just 24 hours notice between January 1, 2009 and March 31, 2009, 24 of the world’s best big-wave surfers will make the trek to Half Moon Bay, home of Mavericks, one of the most majestic and infamous surf breaks on Earth. There, they will test their individual skills and vie for the highly sought-after 2009 Mavericks Surf Contest® title. Competitors will face the dangerous elements of the frigid northern California waters in search of the perfect ride on waves reaching heights of 30 to 40 feet or more.

Contest Director and Mavericks Founder Jeff Clark has announced that the official Contest window will open on January 1. “We are all stoked to be back for another year,” said Clark.  “No matter what else is going on in the world, Mavericks will be here. The season looks promising, as we’ve already seen some major swells roll through Half Moon Bay.  The perfect contest day we’re looking for will bring a northwest groundswell between 18 and 20 feet (translating into waves faces of 30- to 40-feet) and perfect conditions for the surfers, judges and spectators.”

The contestants receive the green light alert and have just 24 hours to arrive for the event.  The international roster of invited surfers consists of, in alphabetical order: Matt Ambrose, Ben Andrews, Grant Baker, Ion Banner, Chris Bertish, Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins, Shane Desmond, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little, Greg Long, Josh Loya, Peter Mel, Shawn Rhodes, Ryan Seelbach, Evan Slater, Tyler Smith, Jamie Sterling, Anthony Tashnick, Darryl Virostko, Grant Washburn, Dave Wassell, Tim West, Zach Wormhoudt.

Also named were the 15 alternates, in order of priority: Alex Martins, Danilo Couto, Mark Healey, Tyler Fox, Rusty long, Nic Lamb, Jamie Mitchell, Mike Gerhardt, Russell Smith, Kealii Mamala, Garrett McNamara, Andrew Marr, Lawton Smith, John Whittle, Colin Dwyer.

This year, the invitees will compete for an exciting $75,000 prize purse personally funded by Mavericks benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision. The purse breakdown awards $30,000 for first place, $12,000 for second place, $7,500 for third place, $3,500 for fourth, $2,500 for fifth and $1,500 for sixth place.

Contest sponsors include Jim Beam® Bourbon, Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, Clif Bar & Co., the Bay Club, The Corporate Law Group, Vertical Response, Surfer Magazine, Sam’s Chowder House, Stormsurf.com, Capture Technologies, and Jeff Clark Surfboards.

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